Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jewish center starts club for Bonita preteens

By Deirdre Conner
Monday, November 27, 2006

The Chabad Jewish Center of Bonita Springs is starting a club to give south Lee preteens a fun place to experience their heritage.
The club, the first of its kind in the area, is geared toward children from 8 to 12 years old. Members will gather for activities that promote Jewish values and friendship, such as craft projects, games and service to help the elderly, sick and needy.
The program will launch this weekend with a pre-Chanukah workshop.
The event takes place on Sunday, Dec. 3, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Bonita Springs YMCA on Kent Road.

© 2005 Bonita Daily News and The Banner. Published in Bonita Springs, Florida, USA by the E.W. Scripps Co.

Jewish school smashed up in Austria; suspect arrested

By Reuters

VIENNA - Austrian police yesterday detained a man suspected of breaking into a Jewish community school overnight and systematically smashing windows and porcelain with a crowbar, officials said.

Jewish community leaders denounced the incident as the worst anti-Semitic outburst in Austria for two decades and showed reporters a trail of destruction on all three floors of the Lauder Chabad School in Vienna.

The school, which has 360 pupils from kindergarten to high-school age, was unoccupied and unguarded in the early hours yesterday. A police spokesman said a man was detained at the scene after residents nearby called in noise complaints to police.

Austrian news agency APA said initial questioning of the suspect indicated he was a Croat aged about 30, but this was not confirmed. The man did not try to flee or resist arrest and did not discuss his motives, APA said.

Jewish community leader Ariel Muzicant warned against making generalizations about the assault, something that has been rare in Austria.

"I don't want to cr eate the impression that Jews face once again being beaten on the streets of Austria," he said amid heaps of glass shards near a display case whose sports trophies lay on the floor, misshapen from heavy blows.

"This is an act of vandalism, it's not a tragedy. Nothing was burned down, no one was hurt. We don't know whether this was the act of a mentally ill person or an (organized) political act," he told reporters.

"However, it is no doubt an anti-Semitic act, done out of rage and hatred. It's very disturbing. But we will definitely not be intimidated by something like this," Muzicant added.

Austria's small Jewish community leads a generally well-integrated life. Its schools have police guards when classes are in session. But Muzicant said the community could not afford to protect its 40 buildings in Vienna around the clock.

The last serious anti-Semitic attack in Austria was in the mid-1980s when a number of gravestones were desecrated by neo-Nazis, he said.

School board member Jacob Biberman said that while classes would resume on time today after a clean-up, there was concern that schoolchildren could be left with some "emotional damage" from the assault. He said he hoped the incident would spur efforts to improve public education against all forms of bigotry and intolerance.

Paintings and crayon drawings hung on school walls were left untouched, and no swastikas or anti-Semitic graffiti were found.

There are two small, far-right parties in Austria's parliament that deny periodic accusations that some members harbor neo-Nazi sympathies.

Former Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider drew international condemnation for praising Nazi Germany's employment policies and Hitler's Waffen SS elite force, but later apologized.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Boroughs agree to Chabad menorah displays

The battles over public menorah displays are drawing to a close for the year as Closter and Fair Lawn agreed to allow Chabad menorahs to be placed at their municipal buildings this Chanukah season.

In a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, the borough council of Fair Lawn decided to allow Anshei Lubavitch to erect a menorah for the first time in Rabbi Levi Neubort’s five-year tenure. The opposing vote came from Mayor Martin Etler, who said he respects the decision of the other council members but has "very strong reservations about religious icons being on public property," he told The Jewish Standard Wednesday. "I think this is a further incursion of religion into government." A lighting ceremony was not discussed at the meeting, but Neubort hopes that will be addressed as the council works out the details of the display.

"Just that it’s up is such a big accomplishment, changing the status quo," he said. Friends of Lubavitch of Bergen County had been trying since the 1980s to have a menorah set up in Fair Lawn, with no success, he said.

While Neubort said he expected the vote to carry into the future, Etler said the menorah’s placement would be a one-time event and would have to be voted on every year.
The details of the menorah’s size and placement will be worked out at a later session. In previous years, Neubort had offered to donate a 6- or 7-foot menorah to the borough. Now that council has agreed to the display, he said he is willing to donate the new 10-foot menorah that would have stood outside Anshei Lubavitch’s shul. Borough Manager Thomas Metzler expressed interest in his idea, Neubort said, but the rabbi understood that the council would decide how big a menorah would be displayed. Metzler could not be reached for comment by press time.

Despite the possibility of repeating the debate next year, Neubort is happy to have the menorah up for at least this year.

On Monday, Closter’s Mayor Fred Pitofsky told the Standard that the borough council had approved the request of Chabad on the Palisades and the Closter Menorah Committee to place a menorah at the municipal building — but without any ceremony.

Pitofsky said he still would have preferred to have the menorah and a lighting ceremony at Closter’s Veterans Park, but that it would have been disruptive to the community to close off the necessary streets.

"It’s a fair solution," he said, "better than not having it at all."

Lubavitch on the Palisades’ Rabbi Chaim Boyarsky, who had led the Closter Menorah Committee’s fight to place the symbol, agreed that it was a fair solution.

"We’ve very happy with the results," he said in a phone interview Monday. "We’re looking forward to a time when we’re going to have lighting ceremonies, but we’re happy as of now."

On Tuesday, however, Boyarsky sent an e-mail to the council expressing gratitude for being allowed to display the menorah but requesting a second hearing for permission to hold a lighting ceremony. He offered to cover all expenses related to set up and clean up. The council had not responded to him by press time.

Borough Council President Sophie Heymann said the decision to allow the menorah to be raised "without the major celebration they forced on us last year" had been made almost two weeks ago, after the council received Chabad’s Oct. 24 letter — a response to the council’s previous decision to deny the organization permission to place a menorah on borough property this year.

Heymann added that the decision had been made at an open meeting that Chabad did not attend. Boyarsky said he had not been informed about the meeting and would have attended had he known.

The menorah will be on display Dec. 14 to 23. A crèche will also be displayed Dec. 10 through Jan. 7.

"We’ve always worked very well with various religious organizations in town," Pitofsky said. "We’re proud of the fact we have a diverse group of churches and synagogues; they’re all an asset to the borough."

While Lubavitch on the Palisades continues its push for a lighting ceremony in Closter, Neubort is enjoying his victory in Fair Lawn. "When you have to fight for something and get it, it’s all the more satisfying," he said.

Rabbi's daughter engaged

Rochel Bryski, daughter of Rabbi Moshe and Matty Bryski, executive director of Chabad of the Conejo, announced her engagement this week to Rabbi Eli Laber.

There will be an open house engagement party from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Tues., Nov. 28 at the Chabad Center, 30345 Canwood St., Agoura Hills. Friends, acquaintances, students and congregants are invited to attend. E-mail greetings may be sent to rabbibryski or

Rochel, who was born and raised in the Conejo Valley, serves as the program director of the Friendship Circle, a program for children with special needs.

Laber, a member of the worldwide Chabad community, has worked in the Camp Gan Israel Network, directing a summer camp in South Padre Island, Texas, as well as serving on the staff of the International Shluchim Office in Brooklyn where he coordinated programs and activities for thousands of Chabad Centers throughout the world.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Chabad rabbi pushes limits

chabad rabbi peretz chein ran this year's cape cod marathon

Chabad Rabbi Peretz Chein has always told the Brandeis University students he ministers that “Judaism is about going beyond yourself.” Less than two weeks ago, Rabbi Chein went beyond himself on a physical level and ran the entire Cape Cod Marathon.

Last autumn, while strolling through New York City, he chanced upon the city’s annual marathon in progress. “I could do this,” he thought.
“A year from now, I’m going to run a marathon,” he told those assembled at his house for Shabbat a few days later. He wanted to inspire others to try to accomplish what might seem impossible. “I’m going to live by example,” he said.
Nevertheless, Rabbi Chein was daunted. “I said to myself, ‘what did I just do?’”
Over the year, he battled knee strains to work up from three miles to five, then seven, then 10, then 12. He alternated between a route through his Waltham neighborhood and stints on the family treadmill, relieving the machine of its usual duties as a clotheshorse.
The final weeks were the most difficult, he said, due to the demands of the new school year and the necessity of scheduling his training around the High Holidays. But even some holiday mandates proved advantageous to his regimen: during the week of Succot, Rabbi Chein would stock the Chabad Succah with sustaining food and drinks, run several miles, stop by the Succah to “refuel,” and then run several more.
And on Sunday, Oct. 29, family and friends bearing encouraging signs and kosher refreshments cheered Rabbi Chein across the finish line.
Since then, he has revisited the theme of “going beyond yourself” in a recent Dvar Torah. “But this time, I said it with a greater authority,” he said. “Having experienced it, I know that it requires very hard work, discipline and commitment. But the reward is priceless.”


Come Listen
Jewish Music Group

A duo of West Coast Chabad yeshiva students, Ta-Shma is a high-concept hip-hop and pop act that serves as the fledgling Jewish Music Group's answer to Matisyahu. "Ta-Shma" is a Talmudic term that translates as the title of the pair's album, but when it comes to their sound, the members of this act have little reverence for the past.

True, "Good and Grey" uses a klezmer violin sample, and "Voice of My Beloved" and "Rachamana" both use Chabad niggunim as choruses. Guest performances from Andy Statman, Y-Love and Matisyahu himself show that the members of Ta-Shma aren't afraid of being associated with their popular Jewish peers. Overall, however, this disc lives in Gorillaz territory, featuring a slick, layered production that goes out of its way to be as smooth and funky as possible. Producer Alon Cohen has achieved this sound with ease, and the pop-savvy listener will get sucked in.

"Arise O Rise" uses an electro-pop rock-steady groove, while "Ups and Downs" sports some jazzy trumpet parts and "Return Home" sounds like it could be introduced by Casey Kasem. Lyrically, the album lives up to the liner notes' threat that "Ta-Shma drops the spiritual science that makes your head spin." The rhymes flow rapidly and smoothly, although not always intelligibly, covering the gamut of Jewish values and teachings. A defining track, "Journeys," recalls the process of becoming religious, which the song's narrator apparently began after an eye-opening birthright trip to Israel. Along the way, he found a way to combine his past fondness for "reefer" rhymes with the lessons of his current fulltime yeshiva studies. Somehow, Ta-Shma manages to bring these diverse influences together, and it works. Whether its members will be able to build a career out of their talent remains to be seen.

Rabbi Levi Landa jazzes up Chabad programming



Levi Landa was just an infant when his photo first appeared in the St. Louis Jewish Light in 1980 when his father, Rabbi Yosef Landa established Chabad in St. Louis. Levi attended Epstein Hebrew Academy and then continued his studies, including several years in France, Israel and London. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Rabbinical College of America in New Jersey in 2003 and then, like so many St. Louisans, he returned home.

Today Rabbi Levi Landa is Chabad's director of programming. The organization has grown exponentially over the last four years. It has four locations now: Chabad of Chesterfield, Chabad on Campus, Congregation Bais Menachem and The Source Unlimited. The non-membership organization is not about creating something new and different, Rabbi Yosef Landa said.

"You come to a program and enjoy yourself, that's success, the end of the story," Landa said. "This is the philosophy of Chabad. There are no separations between Jews. It's about raising Jewish awareness with an emphasis on the holidays and creating opportunities to bring people together. It's about Jews and Jewishness coming together — it's a natural."

The expansion included additional programming opportunities. Rabbi Levi Landa started planning his first event, "Chanukah on Ice," while he was still in New York. The program brought together more than 600 people.

"The response was unbelievable," said Rivka Landa, wife of Levi. "We created the program to be entertaining and educational for any age group. We had everyone from seniors in wheelchairs to little babies."

Rivka and Levi met in New York. She is originally from Toronto, where her father is the Chabad representative. She attended a teacher's college with a specialty in preschool education. They have an 18-month-old daughter named Mushkie.

Over the summer Rabbi Levi worked on the programming for the entire year. The results are featured in the 15,000 copies of Chabad's St. Louis Jewish Calendar, which were inserted in the St. Louis Jewish Light and mailed out. It is easier to do the programming when everything is laid out for the year, Rabbi Levi said.

Every month there are new programs and old favorites to look forward to, Rabbi Levi said. "Chanukah on Ice" will be back with high impact entertainment. The olive oil press will be at the Jewish Community Center and area religious schools, day schools and Hebrew schools. This year participants will be making their own dreidels and menorah wicks. Super Bowl Shabbat features Jewish former football player Alan Veingrad. Angels & Gefilte Fish will be a community-wide interactive traditional Friday night dinner with Kabbalistic insights.

The community has already provided a great response to the increase in programming. Rivka Landa started "Mommy and Me," a program for moms and their one to two-and-one-half-year-old children. The program already has a waiting list, so she is thinking of adding another day.

It is a great joy for Rabbi Yosef to have his son back in town. Both father and son are very happy to be living in the same community and working together.

"It's a personal success story," Rabbi Yosef said. "Levi was taught and he observed. It wasn't just about watching his parents do their job. He wanted to come back to St. Louis and do the same job."

"I am looking forward to meeting with the St. Louis Jewish community," Rabbi Levi said. "It is a wonderful opportunity to teach and learn. You never know who is the one doing the teaching and learning. It is special to be a part of that."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kol Menachem Book Of Haftaros

This is a story of outstanding Torah achievement. In November 2002, the Torah world was introduced to the first volume of the Kol Menachem Chumash. Coordinated with its then issue date, the volume was that of Chumash Shemos, titled Toras Menachem,with an English translation of commentaries of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt”l (1902-1994), revered Lubavicher Rebbe. The volume also incorporated a running question and answer commentary by Rabbi Chaim Miller, integrating classic commentators. The Torah text is translated into English, faithful to Rashi’s interpretations.

With the release in May of 2005 of Kol Menachem’s fifth volume, Bamidbar, the entire Chumash was completed. From the time of its initial introduction, the world of Torah scholarship rejoiced in the availability of the colossal work, recognizing its highly professional presentation, exceptional clarity of language and the broad scope of information that each volume contained.

Kol Menachem’s Book of Haftaros has now been released. The luxurious volume can and will be used in shuls for the public reading of the weekly Haftarah, but its main function is to give a clear understanding of what the Haftaros are telling us. The Haftaros are presented according to Chabad, Ashkenazic and Sephardic customs, with a commentary anthologized from classic rabbinic texts, as well as from the works of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

As work on the Kol Menachem volumes of Chumash continued, the reception was so overwhelming that the Kol Menachem staff was “inspired to work 14-hour days to finish this project,” commented Rabbi Meyer Gutnick, founder of the Kol Menachem foundation that publishes the Chumash. “Can you imagine how it feels to have phone calls, letters and e-mails all day from people whose lives have literally been changed by the Chumash and are begging for more? For many thousands of people, it was their first exposure to the Rebbe’s teachings. Others tell us how it has enabled them to bring Torah study into their busy lives and has even inspired some individuals to become baalei teshuvah. So we just had to pull out all the stops to get this project finished.”

The five volumes of the Gutnick Chumash contain more than 1,000 sichos (essay discussions) of the Rebbe, which were meticulously researched, analyzed, and carefully adapted to retain the flavor of the original sichah. Each adaptation was then reviewed by a board that included both scholars and laymen, to ensure that the commentary would be both accurate, yet accessible to a person who had not studied Torah before.

The Kol Menachem Chumash has become the best seller amongst all Lubavitch works. Rabbis, scholars, laymen, and baalei teshuvah have come to rely upon it as keys in understanding the weekly Torah readings. Recognizing its unique value, The Jewish Press, in particular, has elected to provide its readers with an excerpt each week.

These sefarim are all now available from Judaica stores worldwide or from the publisher at, or by calling 1-888-580-1900.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Jewish Congregation Celebrates New Meeting House

Carole Mikita Reporting

Members of the Jewish faith are celebrating the dedication of their new house of worship today. Members of the group Chabad Lubavitch of Utah simply outgrew their meeting house, but their Rabbi has had his eye on this building for many years.

The long-anticipated dedication day for one Jewish congregation has arrived. Rabbi Benny Zippel shows us the sanctuary.

Rabbi Benny Zippel: "When people get together to commune with God, it is an individual's relationship with his or her god. So we have the women seated on this side of the sanctuary, we have the men, and you can come in, we have the men seated on this side of the sanctuary."

The Torah, or Holy Scriptures, rest on a higher platform. Chabad Lubavitch of Utah has had this new building for about a year. The members celebrate today using two fundamental themes of their faith.

Rabbi Benny Zippel: "Cohesiveness, of getting together and of joy, of happiness and joy."

Now they have this new social hall for gatherings. Rabbi Zippel remembers arriving in Utah with his wife, Sharrone, in July of 1992. They began building a congregation. The Rabbi has hoped to buy this property since 1997.

Rabbi Benny Zippel, Chabad Lubavitch of Utah: "And we went through a lot of hurdles, had to jump through a lot of hoops, and difficulties and setbacks and so on and so forth; but we're really thrilled to have it and to celebrate with the community in this great occasion."

The rabbi says his group is part of the international Chabad Lubavitch, the largest Jewish outreach organization with 26-hundred centers throughout the world. He says everyone can always be brought a step closer to God, the door is open.

Rabbi Benny Zippel: "Everyone is welcome, everybody's part of this. please come join us and celebrate your judaism with us."

Festivities begin at 1760 South 1100 East in Salt Lake at 6:00; the public is invited. Shlock Rock, an educational music group from Israel, will perform.

Chabad Jewish Center of Monroe opens its own religious school

by Debra Rubin
NJJN Jewish News/Middlesex

The Chabad Jewish Center of Monroe
has opened a religious school for elementary-age pupils, only the second in Monroe Township.

“We are calling it a pilot program,” said Chanie Zaklikovsky, the school’s director and wife of the Chabad rabbi, Eliezer Zaklikovsky. “We have eight children enrolled, ages eight to 11,” for the Sunday morning classes. “If we get more children or younger children, we will open the school to them as well.”

Despite the area’s reputation as a haven for retirees, the Zaklikovskys predict there is a need to be filled among Jewish families who have moved into the housing developments that have blossomed in Monroe Township in the past few years.

The township public school system serves 4,302 pupils in four elementary schools, a middle school, and Monroe High School, up from 2,577 in 1993.

The first township religious school — at the 24-year-old Reform Congregation Etz Chaim-Monroe Township Jewish Center — now has 52 students.

According to Rabbi Zaklikovsky, residents have moved into the area for jobs and are often disconnected from family and the synagogues and institutions they grew up in.

“We consider this a major achievement that we can tap into Jews who are really far away from their roots and really help them know their heritage,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to give them something new and fresh and give the children individualized attention. This is something the whole family can be part of and grow with — and this is the beginning.

Most of the students enrolled participated in a youth program, Youth Zone, held several times last year around the various holidays. After communicating with the families who participated in that program, Chanie Zaklikovsky said, “we realized that the parents really wanted to introduce their kids to Judaism even though they didn’t know that much themselves. Many of them kept on talking to me about it” after the programs.

Chanie, a middle school teacher at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Raritan Valley in East Brunswick, said the Chabad religious school is focusing on such basics as prayer, holidays, and simple Hebrew.

Students “are learning who they are, where they come from,” she said. A lot of these children come from unaffiliated families and “never really encountered anything Jewish in their lives. Basically we want to expose them to their own heritage so they see they come from a beautiful people with beautiful traditions.”

Children can also prepare for becoming a bar or bat mitzva by going through the school and then working with the rabbi, who will provide individualized lessons.

“We’re here for every child,” said Chanie, who previously taught in Brooklyn and in her native Canada.

She will also have other experienced teachers backing her in the new Monroe endeavor. “The nice thing is that I have volunteers from the adult communities who have offered to help,” she said. “I have four or five retired teachers. Maybe one can’t come this Sunday and another one that Sunday, but here I have all these experienced teachers to help me. It’s wonderful that all these ages can work together.”